Five Genre Series Worth A Look


Do what Hedgehog tells you to. Because shut up, that’s why.

The Genre Show. Never has a title so vague been applied to something so specific. 2011 was a really good year for fantasy and science fiction television and 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty good year too, with new additions like Alcatraz and the upcoming Awake giving us drama with a hint of the weird and wonderful.

The following are presented in no particular order.

FRINGE

A gorgeous FBI agent, an eccentric, and borderline psychotic, genius, a series of inexplicable pseudoscientific events and another universe quite unlike our own: Fringe is, in my opinion, The X-Files for today’s modern audience. Only better.

The series success is partly due to the snappy writing and the excellent chemistry between cast members, Walter (John Noble) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) particularly, but mostly it’s the weird and wonderful monstrosities that each new week brings to the screen. And when the Red Universe starts to make an appearance in season two, things get even more surreal, with each character’s doppelganger giving a slightly new twist to a familiar face.

This could well be the last season of Fringe, and if so they’ve promised a well-planned finale that ties up loose ends. If you haven’t watched this series yet – I know there’s a few of you out there – now’s your chance to play catch up.

ALCATRAZ

Alcatraz, another JJ Abrams creation, is the story of the most famous prison in the world, time travel, Hurley from LOST and Sam Neill being all surly and silver-haired. We’re still early in the first season, so there is a lot up in the air but so far I’ve enjoyed the way the missing prisoners, the so-called sixty-threes, have been used as a narrative framing device, without feeling cheap and too “villain-of-the-weekish”

Neill is great as Emmerson Hauser, the commander of his own little team and someone with a seemingly vested interest in capturing the sixty-threes, discovering their secrets and what’s with the secret underground replica of Alcatraz anyway? I like a good mystery, for all it’s faults I am still a fan of LOST and I think Alcatraz is, thus far anyway, striking a nice balance between questions asked and questions answered.

PERSON OF INTEREST

Produced by JJ Abrams (this guy loves his science fiction) this is actually the brainchild of Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan of Inception and The Dark Knight series fame. Set in New York City, the series focuses on a secret computer system, a machine which monitors all radio, telecommunications and internet traffic, everywhere, all the time, and filters this information to discover threats – both large and small scale.

Reece (Jim Caviezel) is a former CIA operative and Finch (Michael Emmerson) is a billionare, genius computer expert and the man who built ‘the machine’. The series has a fairly strict victim-of-the-week structure but due to the overall premise this never seems overplayed, and there is enough variety week to week to allow this series to be in my top five ever list already.

It’s clever, the cast are stellar and the subtle clues as to the history of the machine are well worth investing some time in the series.

GAME OF THRONES

Moving away from science fiction and into the realms of the fantastic, Game of Thrones blew me away last year with its brutal drama, intricate plot, stunning cast and gorgeous opening titles. Concerning the political turmoil of a land without a king, Game of Thrones is stylish, sexy and very, very good.

The cast are too numerous to name, but a few stand out members are Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, the impish playboy and member of the ruling household; Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki tribesmen; and Emillia Clarke as my new favourite woman of television, Daenerys Targaryan the stunningly beautiful teenage princess and bride to Khal Drogo. And of course, Sean Bean as Ned Stark, lord of Winterfell.

With hints of myth and magic, this is a sturdy political drama with a background of medieval fantasy and I could not recommend it more highly.

TOUCH

We’ve only seen the pilot episode of this Kiefer Sutherland starring series about a boy with magical autism powers and his father, who must make sense of his scribblings to try and avert major disasters. It’s a little bit “Autistic 24” but I think Sutherland is doing a decent job of playing father to the young boy.

There is a risk that this will, like Person Of Interest, become very victim-of-the-week and in the case of Touch I think that could lead to its downfall. Person is designed to be a case based series and the premise allows for the machine to deliver new numbers but in terms of this little boy, I think there is only so much ‘dot connecting trickery’ an audience would be willing to buy.

Still. I enjoyed the first episode and think it’s at least one to keep an eye on when the full season starts up.

Special mention: one to look out for,

AWAKE

Starting March 1 in the US, Awake tells the story of Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter’s Lucius Malfoy), a detective who is involved in a serious accident, during which his son is killed. In the wake of this tragedy, he puts himself to bed, only to wake up the following day to find his wife dead, and his son very much alive.

As he struggles to cope with these two realities, he is thrown into new police cases; finding clues to help one world in the other.

The trailer looked promising, and it’s certainly one I’ll be keeping my eye on. Jason Isaacs is always great and the premise, if not stretched too thinly, could prove interesting.

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